Kaiser Forced Carpal Tunnel Sufferer to Resign, She Claims
10-22-2014 22:46:00

STOCKTON, Calif. (CN) - Instead of accommodating an employee’s wrist and thumb problems, Kaiser forced her to resign, she claims in a San Joaquin County Superior Court disability discrimination lawsuit.

     Kristina MacKay sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in interactive process, retaliation for taking protected medical leave and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
     According to her complaint, MacKay had been working for Kaiser for about 12 years when she had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in her right wrist, followed by medical leave of about eight weeks.
     MacKay was a Professional Services Coder, she says.
     “Despite her surgery, MacKay continued to suffer from pain related to her carpal tunnel syndrome, and she also developed a case of ‘trigger thumb,’ aka stenosing tenosynovitis – a common disorder characterized by catching, snapping, or locking of the thumb, associated with dysfunction and pain,” her complaint states.
     MacKay requested work station adjustments to accommodate her carpal tunnel syndrome several times, but her supervisor, “directly and sternly told MacKay that Kaiser had ‘done everything required’ and would do nothing further,” according to the complaint.
     Her supervisor’s attitude toward her got worse after that “and she practically stopped talking to MacKay altogether,” according to the complaint.
     “Kaiser also gave MacKay pretextual write-ups attacking her work performance in a campaign to set her up for termination. For instance, although MacKay always met her work quotas, Kaiser criticized her for a supposed lack of productivity,” he complaint states.
     Soon after MacKay told Kaiser she needed surgery for her trigger thumb, Kaiser put her on a “last chance agreement,” according to the complaint.
     About two months later she had the surgery, followed by a three-week medical leave, according to the complaint.
     When she came back, she was given light duty and was reassigned to optical sales, according to the complaint.
     Three days after MacKay started working in optical sales, she was called to a meeting with her supervisors and union representative, told she was being terminated for poor work productivity, and offered the option of voluntarily resigning, according to the complaint.
     “Understanding that a voluntary resignation was preferable to a termination, MacKay was forced to resign her employment with Kaiser. Kaiser classified the cessation of employment as ‘termination – involuntary,’” the complaint states.
     Kristina MacKay seeks economic and non-economic damages, injunctive relief, punitive and/or exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and costs and prejudgment and post-judgment interest. She is represented by Robert J. Wasserman and John P. Briscoe of Mayall Hurley in Stockton.